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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

STEFAN   GEORGE  AND   HIS   CIRCLE                 153

tions of Hofmannsthal's Alkestis and Stefan George's Der siebente
Ring are quite wonderful in their way. He, too, translated Swin-
burne.

ALBRECHT SCHAEFFER (1885-1950), like Rudolf Borchardt, re-
jects George's circle as sterile imitators. He is, however, a con-
fessed Georgean, though he swerved to drama (Demetrius, 1922)
and to the novel. He counts mostly for the ultra-refinement and
rich colouring of his prose, which make the three volumes of his
aesthetic novel Helianth (1920) one of the notable works of the
period; it has been likened, with its infolded pictures, to a majestic
gobelin. His work in verse and prose is so voluminous and varied
that for a clear idea it would have to be sectioned off according to
periods, theme, and style. To his Hellenistic phase belong Attische
Ddmmerung (1914), Heroische Fahrt (1914), and the two volumes of
Griechische Heldensagen (1929-30). His poem Der gottliche Dulder
(1920) forms a group with his translations of the Qdyssee (1927)
and the Ilias (1929). In his 'Attic myth* Der Raub der Persephone
(1920) the interest lies in the metrical manipulation to fit the shift-
ing moods and in the delicate coloration. The myth is spun out
to thin threads; the throb of interest is anaemic, the aim being to
achieve verbal effects. The poem is therefore a typical product of
Georgean Artistenkunst, though there is a loosening here, as else-
where, of George's strict prosodic pattern. Schaeffer's Novellen
(collected in Das Priswa> 1924; Mitternacht, 1928; Das Opfertier,
1931; Rnechte und Mdgde, 1931) belong to expressionism in so far
as they have for theme the regeneration of the protagonist from
a degraded phase of humanity to a high conception of duty and
of fellowship with other mortals (Wandlm£). This is a far fling
from the classical definition of the Novelle as the unfolding of a
strange event (eine unerborteBegebenheif) and its impact on characters
already formed and finished (Jertige Charaktere). Thus the prota-
gonist in two of Schaeffer's typical Novellen, Christacker and
Fidelia are morally re-created by what happens. Christacker is the
Scrooge theme of redemption by pity: the dreams of a night bring
an ice-cold curmudgeon closer to his fellow men. The lines are
still grotesque, but there is not the loud humour affected by
Dickens, and there is a complicated psychological basis with a
refined symbolism. The surname itself is symbolic: it has been
changed from a coarse-sounding name (apparently Mistacker);
the character is faintly imaged as a field in which is sown the seed